Monday, February 25, 2008

The Greatest Photo Ever

My friend Amy posts photos from her childhood on her blog, so I thought I needed to join the fray since I own the absolute best photograph in the whole wide world, seen below.The "red car," the bush the size of a bus that swallowed our neighbor's mailbox, and Emily and Thomas in magnificent 80's clothing. If you imagine my other brother Randy inside the house playing chess on the Atari and me throwing a temper tantrum, then you see everything there is to see from my family in the 1980's.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

This Leftist Wolf-Loving Hippy Disagrees

If it were up to me, you'd have to watch out for mountain lions, wolves, and grizzly bears in almost every suburban neighborhood in America. So maybe it's a good thing that it's not up to me. But still, I'm not sure how I feel about the Northern Rockies Gray Wolf being de-listed as an endangered species. Maybe I'd view this as an amazing wolf re-population success story if the governor of Idaho weren't named "Butch" and didn't want to cull 80% of the population.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Nitro, Pacence, and the Tree People

My friend Nitro from the CDT was in town this weekend. We talked about future hiking plans, and it was really interesting to discuss the motivation for our hikes. We're both triple-crowners, but it seems for totally different reasons, as she has none of the misanthropy/Everett Ruess/Chris McCandless/kid from My Side of the Mountain/hermit/loner disease that I have. She apparently likes people. Weird.

Anyway, I showed her around town and we got a big kick out of the Berkeley tree-sitters. Here's Nitro striking a pose in front of their "Release the Pressure" sign.

Berkeley tree-sitters? Yes, Berkeley has a bunch of people living in some oak trees in order to, in my view, prevent Cal from having a really good football team. Here's a picture of their athletic facility construction blocking, Mother Earth loving home in the trees.
I do really like planet Earth and trees, but the University itself planted most of the trees, plus I really like football. Mostly I'm for football. Old growth and it'd be another story. Regardless, it's interesting to me how un-Radical the University seems compared with Berkeley's city government. Before moving here I assumed the students were the seat of it all, and maybe things were that way during the Free Speech Movement when students were occupying Sproul Hall and Mario Savio was around, or maybe that's just a dream of mine.

Anyway, my buddy from the AT, Pacence, was on PBS talking about the book he wrote. Here's the clip. You can see that some of his reasons for hiking and traveling are in line with mine, but definitely not the exact same.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

50K, SchmiftyK

I ran my first race with Pacific Coast Trail Runs in a while, the Sequoia 50K . I used to volunteer and run with them as much as possible, but now that I both don't have a car and have to work most weekends, I haven't been able to run with them since getting back. This race is one of the closest to my house, in the Oakland hills, so I definitely wanted to do it, but I still didn't have a good way to get there, so I decided to run. I biked about 4 miles to where the trails start near campus, then ran 9 or 10 miles south along the ridge to get to the starting line. I left my house three hours before the start and got there with three minutes to spare. The 50K then took me 7:25, which is a good hour longer than it's taken me to do PCTR's other 50K courses, but the three-hour warm-up probably explains that. Just for kicks, here's the g-map pedometer map of what turned out to be my very circuitous run to the start.

No, I didn't run home; I bummed a ride back to my bike.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Ghost of Garret Past

I recently received a letter from myself that I wrote ten years ago. My high school AP government teacher had us write them, then held on to them for us until mailing them a couple weeks ago. I find my letter extremely amusing. First of all, it is always very amusing to go back and read old journals, because I'm astonished at how stupid I used to be. (In high school I burnt my journal from elementary school because I was embarrassed that it was just page upon page of "I hate Mrs. Orend and I love Alicea Ardito.") I think everybody has this experience, and it's probably good to realize that stuff you once thought meant the end of the world turns out to be hilarious. Second, it's amusing how wrong my predictions about the future were. The 18-year old Northern Virginia Republican Mormon did not expect to become a 28-year old atheist Berkeley liberal, to say the least. Good thing I'm happy the way I am.

Anyway, I'm writing a longer essay about the letter, which I might post here at a later date, but for now, here are the funniest quotes from the letter itself:

You don’t have to be married yet, but you probably should be by now, because it’ll be harder the longer you wait. At least, I think it will.

If you’ll remember, you won the “most bitter, prematurely filled with angst” superlative your senior year of high school. You wanted to win so that you would have an incentive to change. You better have changed. You used to sit on a trash can and make fun of people who walked by, and it got you the nickname Oscar, as in Oscar the Grouch. Be nice! Be nice.

You like Milton Friedman a lot, but it might be fun to own a t-shirt shop.

Keep the family tight, remember your roots at the Hill Cumorah Pageant, summers in Rochester, the cabin on Dotty lake outside Huntsville, Ontario, and trampolines.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

You Won't Care About This Unless You Love the Redskins

Seriously? Jim Zorn is the new Redskins Head Coach? I don't know how I feel about this. As with most fans, I would've been much happier with Gregg Williams, or failing that, Steve Spagnuolo. Mostly I think we'll be just about as mediocre as we have been during the entire Snyder era, mostly thanks to personnel decisions (read: Antonio Pierce). Now that we've got an inexperienced head coach he probably won't be doing double duty as GM and head coach like Gibbs was doing, which is good, but that is probably just going to mean that Snyder himself is going to pick up the slack and ramp up his wild sacrificing the long-term in favor of the latest hot free agent. Arg.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Bikes and Haircuts

This is what I looked like a week or so ago right before I trimmed my beard.
This is what I look like today. I didn't like it at first; I thought with the long (for me anyway) hair and trimmed beard I looked too much like Johnny Damon or someone else who tries to be both metrosexual and mountain man at the same time. Now I like that I get those little loopy things on the side, especially when I wear a hat.

Most importantly, this is my new bicycle. It is an old steel frame 52 cm Nishiki Custom Sport 10 speed. I love it. It is of course nothing special, but since all the riding I do is on roads, it's amazing how much better it feels to ride a road bike than a mountain bike. I'd much rather be commuting on this beautiful bicycle, but this is Berkeley, so I'd have to be super careful to prevent it from get ripped off. I suppose I could use this good steel frame to ride across the country in '09, but it would take a ton of other work and better parts, so I still plan on getting something sexier soon. I paid $130 for my bike at Street Level Cycles, a community-owned bike shop that fixes up old donated bikes and has open hours to teach/help you fix your own bike. It's a pretty sweet place.

And here's this picture again, just because I look so awful.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Disenfranchisement Sucks

I declined to state a party when I registered to vote at my Emeryville address (I guess because I think of American textile/manufacturing workers as no more important that workers in other countries and thus disagree with John Edwards on free trade, but after today, I'll suck it up and join the party.) So they sent me an independent mail-in ballot which had just the state ballot initiatives, which I sent in. Then it sank in that CA Dems let independents vote in their primary. I went by the polling place to see if I could get just the presidential part of the ballot, but it doesn't work like that, so no Baracking the vote for me.

So tomorrow I'll suck it up, join the party, and forget about the permanent absentee status now that I actually live in the state I'm registered in. I can't remember going to a polling place since I was 6 or so years old with my mom, and it felt a lot cooler than slapping a stamp on the absentee thing, even though they didn't let me vote (twice).

So yeh, I'm for Barack Obama. Krugman seems to think Clinton's health care plan is superior, which could very well be the case, but still, he makes me feel a lot better about the future than a return to Clinton-esque stuff like this.